Jameson Williams has just six games under his belt and only 41 career receiving yards, but there is palpable hype building around the Lions' second-year wide receiver. Despite tearing his ACL in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship, the former Alabama star was still a first-round pick just a few months later in the NFL Draft. Not only that, Detroit leaped up to the No. 12 overall pick to bring him to the Motor City. Because of that knee injury, he didn't make his NFL debut until Week 13, highlighting a bumpy rookie year for the recovering pass catcher.
Now, that injury is farther in the rearview mirror for Williams and it's full steam ahead toward 2023. So far, he seems to be impressing those around the Lions during this period of the offseason program.
"We're already miles ahead with him," Lions coach Dan Campbell said of Williams, via NFL.com. "We didn't get this with him last year; he wasn't able to do any of it. So that in itself is like, man, just to be able to build from the ground up, not the season, he's already in. … Here we go, three weeks, four weeks, you see progress. So I think that's just it. Let's get him better. He's got a lot of room to grow and develop, and he needs this, this time. I think that's what it's about, man. We've got to sharpen every little thing with him, sharpen the routes, sharpen all of it -- like any of the guys -- but just get him as much time on task as we can at different positions."
Williams flashed prowess as a deep threat against the Vikings in Week 14 when he hauled in a 41-yard touchdown. What Campbell has seen from him over the spring is a noticeable development as a route-runner.
"I think some of the biggest growth is just in his routes," he said. "I feel like there's a little better route detail right now that I've seen over the last few weeks. That was kind of a point of emphasis. … When you can use your speed not just to take the top off but to put fear in the defense and then put your foot in the ground and the quarterback puts it on a rope, that's hard to cover."
While all signs are pointing toward Williams having a breakout season in 2023, it will again be a season where he'll be arriving to his teammates on a bit of a delay. He was suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the NFL's gambling policy. Campbell noted that "when he's gone, he's gone" but the team hopes it will have built up a solid foundation for him to hit the ground running when he gets back into the fold.